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Checking in with Carolyn Clarke...plus a book giveaway


We're pleased to welcome Carolyn Clarke to CLC today to celebrate the publication of her debut novel, And Then There's Margaret. If you have a difficult mother-in-law, or even if you don't, this story is sure to amuse and delight you. Carolyn even has one signed copy for a lucky reader!

Carolyn Clarke is the founder and curator of HenLit Central, a blog  
focused on ‘life and lit’ for women over forty. She has been an ESL teacher for over sixteen years and has co-authored several articles and resources with Cambridge University Press, MacMillan Education and her award-winning blog ESL Made Easy. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her partner, Tony, her two daughters and of course her bulldog, Sophie. 

Visit Carolyn online:

Synopsis:
Marriage and midlife can be difficult. And when you add a controlling, manipulative, and self-absorbed mother-in-law into the mix, things can get worse—much worse. Toxic even. Especially when Allison Montgomery’s beloved father-in-law, and long-time confidant, George, passes away and her mother-in-law, Margaret, ‘temporarily’ moves in. 

From rearranging the furniture and taking over the kitchen to embarrassing and undermining Allie at every turn, including funding her daughter’s escape and throwing hissy fits in public, Margaret turns Allie’s life upside down. 

Allie bounces between a sincere desire to be supportive of her grieving mother-in-law and the occasional, intense urge to push her out the nearest window. Feeling annoyed, trapped and even a little childish, Allie struggles to avoid a complete meltdown with help from her fearless and audacious best friend, a plan for reinventing herself and, yes, a few glasses of Chardonnay. Can Allie survive her mother-in-law, all while navigating through the trials and tribulations of midlife, the anxieties of parenting adult children, and a twenty-two-year-old marriage? Maybe… 

You can love your mother-in-law, doesn’t mean you have to like her...

"And Then There’s Margaret is a lively, satirical, contemporary debut by Carolyn Clarke, a talented writer  (and also a heralded book blogger)."
– Marilyn Simon Rothstein, Author of Crazy to Leave You 

"And Then There's Margaret explores the delicate mother-in-law relationship with humor and heart. I  found myself nodding my head over and over again as Clarke captured the all too real joy and sorrow  of family. Fans of Marilyn Simon Rothstein will devour this one. A fun and relatable debut."
– Rochelle  Weinstein, USA Today and Amazon Bestselling Author of When We Let Go

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like for you?
Challenging and exhausting but fun and exciting when I let go and let it be.
 
How is Allie similar to or different from you?
Hmmm, good question. In a way, some of me is incorporated into Allie’s character - certainly when it comes to the angst and anxiety she has over all the stuff we women face at this stage of life. 
 
For the sake of And Then There’s Margaret, I’ve altered the intensity of Allie’s emotions which were sometimes off the chart when battling the ‘day to day’ with her mother-in-law, Margaret. I never had the chance to meet mine (which I’m sure we would’ve been good friends) so through observation and listening to the MIL confessions, sins and stories of my closest friends, she’s pretty much them who have had a tumultuous relationship with their mother-in-law rolled up into one relatable heroine that’s flawed and familiar. 
 
If And Then There's Margaret was made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
At one time, I had Kathryn Hahn in mind to play Allie. Then it was Toni Collette on my script board. Both of these incredibly talented actors could pull off the snark and wit yet become a sympathetic character–enough so for readers to want to wrap their arms around her.
 
For Margaret, I’d love to see Meryl Streep. She’s uber talented and does dramedy well–even in her darkest roles, you can’t help but fall in love with her– which is what I hope readers will do with Margaret in the end.
 
Tell us more about what inspired you to start HenLit Central.

I started Henlit Central around the same time I started And Then There’s Margaret. And boy, am I ever glad I did the research on how to become an author – because one of the things I learned in the pre-stages of writing, was that aspiring authors need to be on social media or at least have some kind of presence out there.

Another inspiration for the blog is that there’s an entire genre that’s underrepresented in the literary world — and it’s us, middle-aged women looking for books that are mature, relatable, and fun. I always love to do interviews with the authors of these books and help promote them too! 
 
What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
I just finished When We Let Go by Rochelle Weinstein. It was so well written and moving. And because I love stories that involve a complex and challenging relationship - and especially a family drama that has a ‘beach feel’ read to it–this book was for me! 
 
What is your favorite summertime activity?

In no particular order, hammocking, gardening, and escaping out of the city for a day or two with family or friends.

Thanks to Carolyn for chatting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

Giveaway ends July 26th at midnight EST.

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